James Loney avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $4.875 million contract on Friday. Loney's salary is kept low by his lack of power. What he does do extremely well is put the ball in play on a line. In 2010 James but the 12th most balls into play as line drives.
Note that James wOBA on line drives ranks eighth among these players, which puts him on the dividing line between the true power hitters (Pujols, Butler, the Adrians) and the singles hitters (Figgins, Young Suzuki). Loney's high line drive rates are a constant, as at least 22% of his balls in play went for liners in each of the last three seasons.
Part of that comes from pitchers preferring Loney line drives to home runs. He hits line drives on the outside half of the plate:
Is it worth it? James's isolated power stands at .343 on fly balls, .245 on liners. He collects many more hits on the liners, but they do less damage. Given his very poor hitting on ground balls (.211 BA, .223 slugging), limiting his power by giving up more line drives appears to be a great tradeoff.